Friday, February 10, 2012

Zak's GM Questionnaire

I printed the questions and wrote down answers as they occurred to me over the course of a few days. Maybe I'll come back to some later, as they are all worth further exploration.

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?

My film noir/Red Scare 1950s setting notes for a Call of Cthulhu one-shot, "Atomic Noir". I should redo the layout and post it here.

2. When was the last time you GMed?

I ran the Dragon Age quickstart module during the first week of January.

3. When was the last time you played?

Last Friday night.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.

Gothic D&D fantasy mashup of Warhammer Fantasy, Ravenloft, and Hammer Horror movies.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?

Think about the possible outcomes for whatever things they are doing and planning, and how it will affect later scenes.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?

I usually don't [when I am the GM] unless we are taking a break. Sometimes I'll sneak something I can eat quickly, like cookies.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

It can be, especially if I've done many different NPC voices or we've had a big combat to keep track of.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?

In our fantasy/steampunk/magical school campaign, my gentleman thief character rescued his apprentice from a deathtrap simulation (for our Death Traps class in school).

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?

Not the entire setting. I don't mind, it's all fun. I think making jokes about situations and NPC names is a way to have fun and reduce tension.

10. What do you do with goblins?

In my last long-term campaign (Freeport), we had a half-goblin PC. The player took the lead in realizing the goblin culture of the setting. I also like Pathfinder's goblins.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?

The final location in the Freeport campaign was a serpent-people temple on a sunken island based on the Mayan pyramid at Tikal.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?

We had quite a few "that's what she said" moments at the Freeport table.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?

A friend let me read his hardcover copy of Graham Walmsley's Stealing Cthulhu. Good stuff...I need to get my own copy.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?

Someone who's work evokes the ideas behind the setting. The illustrations give the reader a sense of the place, and inspire adventures or at least cool things to include in the game.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?

Horror is difficult to do. I'm still working on it.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)

It's been quite a while since I ran an published adventure straight though as is. Mostly I mine them for ideas. That Dragon Age module was a lot of fun.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?

A well-lit office meeting room, with a large table, comfortable chairs, whiteboards, a projector, sound system... but honestly I like the comfort of my house or those of friends. Or this.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?

It took me some time looking over my shelves to make a decision. Ultimately, I went with these two items that were sitting right next to each other: Suppressed Transmission 1 and 2, and 10 Million Ways to Die.

The Suppressed Transmission books are collections of Ken Hite's alternate history columns from Steve Jackson Games' Pyramid Magazine. Each book is stat-free and has a metric ton of inspiring ideas from history usable for any RPG.

At the other end of the spectrum, 10 Million Ways to Die is six pages of universal combat system based on Rolemaster, followed by 100 pages of detailed attack, fumble and critical strike tables with conversions for a dozen different RPGs.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?

The classic random-table, DIY ethic of the OSR, combined with the "Yes, but..." shared-narrative-control of indie story games.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?

Someone who is understanding that things don't always go as planned; is willing to suspend disbelief; plays well with others, that is, someone who works to include everyone in the fun.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?

In some way or another, all my experiences have informed my play styles. I can't think of a specific experience I incorporated directly.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?

Customizable plastic miniatures available in bulk using a 3D printer. Design it, print it, done.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?

I usually only talk about RPGs with other people who have played. When someone asks about what I do for fun, I mention "gaming", usually explained as "tabletop games, board games, video games", then I wait for the social cues from them if they are interested in knowing more. I want to be a better gaming ambassador. I could probably do better at that.


Victor Von Dave said...

"Gothic D&D fantasy mashup of Warhammer Fantasy, Ravenloft, and Hammer Horror movies."

- Dude that would be awesome! Games Workshop's old Halls of Horror dungeon floorplans would work perfectly.

Kaiju said...

I have that set. :)